In most ordinary high schools, many stories and rumors float around—some scandalous, some happy and some...more macabre. One such example is of monsters lurking in an abandoned mansion outside of town. Such tales, however, prove too tempting to resist for Hiroshi and his friends Mika, Takeshi, and Takurou. They decide to brave the rumored dangers in order to investigate the manor and complete a test of courage. Each of them approaches the mansion with an overwhelming sense of dread. And when they enter, they come upon a blue monster named Ao Oni who attacks them.
As Hiroshi and his friends try to solve the various puzzles in the mansion and escape their new blue nemesis, they find themselves meeting several horrible endings as they fail miserably.
Ao Oni; a game that I played a couple of years ago and ended up enjoying, albeit nothing amazing or too special. So, when the anime was announced before the start up of this current anime season I was intrigued. How could they possibly adapt such a short story, and one in which features a purple/blue monster that chases you around a mansion? Well the answer was simple cries Studio Deen: DON'T EVEN TRY!
The anime consist of short three minute episodes that are neither funny nor well animated. The anime is clearly trying to go for comedy but it comes across as so strange and
bizarre that it feels awkward instead. Most of the time, the jokes they're trying to tell are humorous when out of context, but the presentation is so sloppy and strange, it feels off putting. The comedy feels forced most of the time and unoriginal, so much so, I wonder why they even bothered to make this in the first place. The characters are all boring stereotypes that have no charm or have no chemistry between any of them. The animation is very basic but easy on the eyes. It doesn't look ugly, per say but it's not exactly the worst I've ever seen either.
This show is the equivalent of a "huh, whatever". There is nothing memorable or special about this show at all, even more so considering how much the original popularity for the game has died down and if this show had been airing along side the hype for said game, I could understand why this was made. It may improve in the coming episodes but I highly doubt that. If you REALLY like Ao Oni I may recommend this as you may find some enjoyment but for everyone else, I'd tell you to keep away and don't even bother. Its entire existence is pointless and it serves no purpose, not even to die hard fans of the original game.
Episodes 4, 12, and 13 are the only ones worth watching. At my least critical, I might include episodes 5 and 11 with those on the account that they mildly amused me, though I will still likely forget them a week after I've written this review. If you've stumbled upon this series of comedy shorts because of the following the original freeware Ao Oni game has gained, that's really all you need to know. Those are the only episodes of this show that I might consider clever, and even then, not by much. Most of the humor in these shorts is very stale and predictable,
and this problem can primarily be attributed to the characters, because they really aren't characters. They're each a single personality trait combined with a cluster of stereotypical horror character traits. In a freeware game where the focus is on the scares and the atmosphere, this characterization is forgivable. In a comedy series, it ensures that the punchline of each joke is heavily predictable and that the characters never form any meaningful chemistry. The story is largely just meant to be a vehicle for the comedy, and is thus also not worth talking about. The music is completely forgettable, the lone exception being the repeating strings that play whenever being chased by the titular monster in the original game. This track has been seared into the mind of anyone who has experienced the Ao Oni game. Even though it's really only a few seconds of music repeated over and over, it coneys a sense of panic well and manages never to get old or annoying. Thankfully, it's not overused in the series. It and the show's simple but effective art are the only things I can imagine remaining the same in the alternate universe where this show was a comedy masterpiece. Overall, if you REALLY have to see all of the semi-decent anime in existence, watch the episodes I listed above. If you're nowhere near that obsessive, skip this series. The good episodes aren't worth wading through the crappy ones, and even on their own, they never get more than a brief small chuckle. Just look up "Ao Oni Funny Moments" on YouTube and you'll probably get dozens of videos that will make you laugh more than all of the episodes in this series combined.
I'm kinda disheartened by the overall low scores for this otherwise genius masterwork of comedic fiction. Now I do an extent of ignorance towards the sorce material but from the sounds of it, they made the right choice in making Ao Oni the Animation such a classic comedy anime. Along with the likes of Corpse Party, the amount of thoughtful shock value is exceedingly high. Personally, I laugh at every episode with a huge grin on my face.
Many of the characters reminded me of my wonderful friends, so seeing them get brutally murdered by Ao Oni every week is slightly heart wrenching, but nonetheless a
satisfying time. Every character is distinct, what with their own terrib- I mean beautiful designs and interpersonal traits.
Now, if you can read past my sarcasm, I actually think Ao Oni is an underrated masterpiece of comedy. Hey, I laugh at the characters being dismembered on a regular basis... so it can't be all that bad. Right?
First of all, if you are coming into this show thinking it's going to be a direct adaptation of the game, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Ao Oni The Animation is certainly a unique show from the same studio that brought us the horror classic Higurashi... and also Pupa. Instead of a direct adaptation, Deen decided to do a black comedy short series.
Story: Since this is a short episode comedy series, there really is no overarching plot to speak of, and the actual plot of each episode ends in the characters dying in some fashion or another. To be fair, there's only so much
you can do when your episode length is two minutes.
Art: As you can probably tell by the previews, Deen used a heavily stylized chibi art style for this show, which was a smart move as it compliments the comedic style while contrasting the black comedy. The animation is nothing to write home about. If you're expecting super fluid animation from this series... you're just going to be disappointed.
Sound: Ending is good... that's about all I can say about sound. They did use that stupid sound effect whenever they Ao Oni appears in the game which is a nice touch.
Characters: The characters are all pretty bland if you look at them separately. None of them really have any defining characteristics except for a single trope, with the only exception ironically being the monster itself, the Ao Oni. He's the best character in this show by far, and he doesn't even have any speaking lines.
Enjoyment: Here's where this gets interesting. Ao Oni The Animation relies on black comedy for its humor, which is a rather risky move since black comedy can be rather hit and miss. Luckily for me, I am a fan of black comedy and the first episode had me laughing out loud for quite a while.
Overall: Ao Oni The Animation is definitely a "Your Mileage May Vary" show. I recommend trying out the first episode (It's only three minutes) and seeing if you like that. As for me, I give this show a 6/10.